The 22-year-old, Baltimore native landed in the South’s booming music hub after receiving a college scholarship from Clark Atlanta University for writing and producing a jingle for Baltimore Gas and Electric, and has clocked in countless hours since, perfecting her craft.
These days, the musician/producer/DJ, born Jessica Carpenter, is finally reaping the benefits of her relentless work ethic as the only woman to place on Rich Homie Quan’s If You Ever Think I Will Stop Goin’ In Ask Double R mixtape. VIBE Vixen recently chopped it up with JessCarp about her Baltimore club music roots, the importance of authenticity and working with Quan. Get familiar below.
VIBE Vixen: Who is Jessica Carpenter? Or is it just JessCarp?
JessCarp: JessCarp, that’s short for Jessica Carpenter. I am a musician, producer and DJ. To put it simply, I am music in life form.
How did you get into music?
It all started when I was six years old and my parents enrolled me in private piano lessons. I began studying classical music first and as I grew older, I became interested in other music like gospel, R&B, hip-hop, pop, etcetera. But in 8th grade, I decided I really wanted to make music. My neighbor provided me with software and I had a piano and keyboards, so I committed my time to teaching myself how to use it. By the time I was 16, I started DJing high school parties and events. But I really knew that I was going to be producer for sure when I got a college scholarship for writing and producing a jingle for Baltimore Gas and Electric.
Impressive. Can you recall what style you experimented with first?
Yeah, being that I am from Baltimore, Maryland (Westside, to be exact) I ventured into Baltimore club music first. I had a little following on MySpace. People really gravitated towards my sound and enjoyed dancing to my music and I loved it.
ATL is now home base for you. Has the influx of experimental trap music in the city right now influenced your sound at all?
I think that my sound is a little left. At times my 808s can give off a trap vibe, but that’s just because I love bass. But overall, I feel like my sound comes from many different genres, not just rap or hip-hop. I tried to keep it that way; I didn’t want to make music like anyone else in Atlanta. If anything my style is influenced by Baltimore club music, which also has crazy bass.
What was the first song that made you fall in love with rap/hip hop?
“Izzo” by Jay Z. It’s actually the first song that linked me to hip hop. I remember it like it was yesterday. I thought the beat was so hard and so fresh with the Jackson 5 “I Want You Back” sampling.
Of course, my motivation comes from my family and friends. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Alicia Keys–hair half-braided, hat-wearing, had to find the key earring-type of fan. She was a huge role model for me as far as music goes. Bow Wow was also another major inspiration to me, being that he was so young in the game and making an impact. After seeing him go after his dreams, I knew anything was possible for me.
What about producers?
Musically, producers like Kanye West, Dark Child, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beats, Timbaland and Missy Elliot have all been a source of inspiration for me.
Explain the JessCarp sound and what makes you different.
The JessCarp sound is just me, my emotions and my thoughts. Honestly, all of my music sounds different. I love melodies and infusing genres I love into one. I think that’s what makes me different because my sound is fresh yet versatile.
What’s a typical studio session with you like? Is there a method to your madness?
I zone out completely, so I’ve been told. I start with the melody since that’s my favorite part. When I create, I [make gestures] and dance a lot. I like a lot of positive vibes and uplifting energy so a typical session with me is fun and entertaining. When I am recording with someone, things get pretty intense. One artist asked me if I thought I was Diddy. But at the end of the day, I’m always focused on bringing the best out of the talent on the track.
Congratulations on placing on Richie Homie Quan’s new mixtape, If You Ever Think I Will Stop Goin’ In, Ask Double R with “Stupid Me.” How did you link up with Quan?
I linked up with Quan through my manager and partner-in-crime, Anisa. She introduced me to the CEO of Think It’s a A Game Records last summer, and I was able to send over my work to Quan through them. The first few beats I sent weren’t what they were looking for, but it didn’t stop me. I just kept working and perfecting my craft. Some months later, I followed up and sent him more work to show him that I knew what I was doing and I was really serious. Shortly after, I was invited to come by his studio session.
What was it like being in the studio with Quan?
I pulled up to Quan’s session while he was recording and we were all just vibing in the studio. While I was there, I got the chance to play my work for him, but I only was able to play one track. I played the first 30 seconds and he told me to stop and he wanted to do it. Everyone in the studio was feeling the drop. It was such a crazy feeling because I had just finished it the day before so it was fresh material. He laid the whole song down in two hours. I sat next to his engineer as he recorded and they both encouraged me to give my input. Every time I came to his session after, he liked every beat I played. No skips. I love working with Quan. He is so creative and it’s amazing to watch him work. He really just goes in and does him, and knocks out records like it’s nothing.
What does “Stupid Me” sound like?
“Stupid Me” has this sexy, feel good vibe to it as the track was inspired by [Kool and the Gang’s] “Summer Madness“–there’s an eight-second loop with my own added melodies. I really focused on [the song] having this real music and real sound aspect to it. The melodies are very sensual. Then I balance it by making the beat knock something dumb as if it were a heartbeat of a person going through different feelings. It goes totally left at the bridge because I wanted to put people in a trance. I love it.
I’m so soft. Why I just shed a few tears lol This is my first placement man! I can’t thank @RichHomieQuan enough for being so open to work!
— jesscarp (@yeahhjc) April 28, 2015
How does the recognition feel?
I have worked with a lot of artists, but this is my first placement with a major artist so it’s a very exciting moment for me but I can’t get rid of the feeling that I just want to do more, more, more. My mind is always focused on my next move. It’s all really just still sinking in though. I’m so blessed.
As a young female bubbling in a male-dominated industry, what advice would you give other ladies looking to break into the music industry?
The advice I give to females, or anyone in general, is to stay true to yourself and what you do. It’s so important to stay on your own wave, be confident and have faith. Don’t ever let anyone determine who you and or what you can do.
I am looking forward to working with Rihanna [one day]. She’s my favorite. I have a really long list of producers and artists I’d love to collaborate with. But overall, I just want to work with any upcoming, talented individuals that are driven and have the love for the art of music like I do. Let’s make hits!